“As soon as they finished filming …Fiona was here, front of the queue with a Toby Jug , just screaming. Screaming.”
“…a Nokia 3210 survived a spin cycle from a Speed Queen. You should’ve heard it though.”
"Buy the gold, sell the money. You buy the gold, you sell the money. F**ksake."
“Never, ever, two pound coins…a Euro if you really thumb it in.”
the little boy scribbles on the back of the menu
his mother grabs it from him,
mutters a scolding,
turns it over to see a silly mark
she can barely identify
but one day it will be his everything
Libra, n. An arm of a balance. Obs.
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money…
In the 8th Century A.D. King Offa of Mercia decreed that the mass of 240 silver pennies should henceforth be known as a pound, a value approximate in magnitude to the Roman basic unit of weight, the libra. It was later abbreviated to L, or lb. The boundary of how heavy a pound was shifted over time.
One a penny, two a penny…
The people soon adopted the pound as a unit of currency. A pound of silver pennies became a pound of silver and soon enough became simply a pound, borrowing the cursive L of the Roman mass unit for its symbol, abstracted beyond recognition. Eventually the pound gained a new, lofty epithet to distinguish it from its weightier brother: sterling.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star…
Sterling, from the Middle English steorra, meaning star, perhaps because the silver Norman pennies bore their likenesses stamped into them, or perhaps because of the way they shone and glittered as they clattered on the table and tipped the arm of the balance their way. So it was that the pound sterling descended, circuitously, from the stars of the constellation Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac.
Like a diamond in the sky…
Libra, the Latin for weighing scales, the Scales of Justice held in the left hand of Themis, personification of the law, to weigh a person’s guilt. The Babylonians called the constellation Mul Zibanu, meaning balance. They also called it The Claws of the Scorpion, but the scales are what stuck, more philosophically useful. The Egyptians believed that if a person’s heart weighed more than the feather of Ma’at when placed upon the scales then they were deemed unworthy of reaching paradise in the afterlife. Belief, like money, is a powerful engine.
That’s the way the money goes…
The average human heart weighs just over half of a modern pound, about as heavy as 165 of King Offa’s silver pennies, not including the weight of whatever sins it bears. Silver is much less valuable nowadays, just as the weight of the unit pound has shifted, and that much silver is worth now about eighty pounds sterling.
Sing a song of sixpence…
The British pound coin, carrying the value that we now call one pound, weighs just over two one-hundredths of Offa’s pound, and is worth significantly less than 240 of his pennies. Mass and money, stars and silver. From the Latin, meaning weighing scales, or balance. How many times have Libra’s scales been tipped, nudged in unexpected directions?
The king sits in his counting house,
Counting out his money…
No money, no cry.
In a rich man’s world
He will cut, cut, slice
to the bone.
Forget about the price tag,
and owning a home;
in a rich man’s world anything goes.
A ride into oblivion costs but two kisses
Where did my Dmitri go?
He is lying in milky sheets, aside his whistler lover,
while the temples outside shimmer
with unspoken yen and sweet sweet eyelashes
and pans of veiled peaches sail by
-peaches and plums and apricots in curry powder
as a side dish please-
and cherry blossom or sakura or yakult falls like
snowy cadavers over technicolour grey skyscrapers.
But whistler lover is the one who sends
colour wheels via fax and talks about what tiles
to choose for the kitchen.
Red upon red upon red upon red.
Dmitri whispers in my ear in crowded streets --
— ‘Do you want to get dumplings?’
I am sick of dumplings. I will die before I eat another dumpling.